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£10m a year wasted on unwanted prescriptions
More than £10 million is wasted on unused medication in Sussex each year.
Health bosses are urging doctors and pharmacists to think carefully before drugs are prescribed or repeat prescriptions filled out.
Patients are also being asked to talk to their GP or visit their local chemist to discuss their prescriptions and make sure they are getting the right medication.
Around £6 million is wasted in West Sussex alone, with the figure estimated to rise to more than £10 million when Brighton and Hove and East Sussex are taken into account.
The NHS in Sussex spends more than £276 million a year on prescriptions.
The money could be better spent on more nurses, improved treatments or more care for people in need, health bosses say.
The figure emerges as hospitals, primary care and community trusts across the county are battling to save millions of pounds to keep on financial track.
Side effects Around half of all people do not take or use their medicines as prescribed for various reasons, including not liking the side effects, forgetting to take them or believing they no longer need them.
An NHS Sussex spokeswoman said: “We are constantly looking at ways to deliver better and more effective patient care.
“A key part of this is highlighting to patients the need to consider what medicines they actually need and the importance of taking them.
“The fact that many of the medicines are not being used may mean that patients are not fully benefiting from their treatment.
“One of the main concerns is medicines on repeat prescriptions.
“Many medicines are still ordered and collected by patients, which are not needed either because they have stopped using them or because they already have enough supplies.”
The spokeswoman added that it was essential patients picked up only medicine that was really needed.
She said: “Once medicines have been dispensed they cannot be recycled and have to be thrown away – whether they have been used or not.
“We would encourage patients to have a chat with their local pharmacist or GP about their medicines, how to use them effectively, and how to safely dispose of any unused medicines.”
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is calling on people to talk to their pharmacists about how to get the most out of their medicines.
Society president Martin Astbury said: “Not taking a medicine as prescribed means people don’t receive the real benefit from it.
“As a result, their symptoms may not be managed effectively and their health could suffer further.”